On Sunday October 11, David Cook played the Tractor Tavern in Seattle as part of The Digital Vein Tour in support of his new album of the same name. Cook’s last show in Seattle was about four years prior, but the enthusiastic crowd proved that he still has a significant fanbase in the Pacific Northwest. The setlist contained a nice mix of new and old material, as well as some beloved covers, and showed that Cook can still rock out like he did back when he won American Idol over seven years ago.
The opener, Andrew Ripp, expertly mixed blues, country, and gospel with rock and roll and got the crowd engaged with both his music and his storytelling. He shared the ideas behind most of the songs he played, as well as telling an amusing anecdote about meeting David Cook on a plane prior to his appearance on American Idol. By the end of his set, he had more than won over the audience with his music and personality, and successfully warmed up the crowd for Cook’s set.
Cook started things off with the song “Heartbeat” from his latest album Digital Vein, which he released in September. He continued his set with “Paper Heart”, the lone song he played from his previous album This Loud Morning, and a few songs from his self-titled release. Though the crowd was definitely enjoying the set up to that point, he really got people on their feet and moving around with his medley of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” and “Whole Lotta Love” before playing a few more songs from his new record. The audience really came alive when Cook played the opening track “Straight Ahead” from his pre-American Idol album Analog Heart. That album is the favorite of many David Cook fans, so it’s always a treat when he includes the song in his setlist. He ended the pre-encore portion of his set with more songs from Digital Vein, including his haunting cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”, before ending things with “Come Back to Me”, a favorite from his self-titled release.
After briefly leaving the stage, Cook and his band came out for a three song encore that included two songs from his new release, plus an old favorite. He started out with “Better Than Me” and then talked up the local connection to his next song “Light On”, which was written by Seattle native Chris Cornell of the band Soundgarden. He also made his only reference of the night to American Idol, calling it “that show” and mentioning that “Light On” was his first single post-show. Cook ended the show on a high note by playing his current single “Criminals”, which got the audience jumping around one final time and left them cheering and yelling as Cook and his band left the stage.
The nice thing about The Digital Vein Tour is how intimate it is compared to David Cook’s previous tours. Though some of that is because he has shed some of his audience over the years, the people coming to his shows now are a mix of die hard and long time fans, but there are definitely new fans who have just discovered him recently. He is able to easily banter with the audience, sometimes carrying on actual mini-conversations with people in the first few rows. In Seattle, he cracked up a few times at things people in the crowd were yelling at him (the word “sexy” became a running joke throughout the evening) and made a point to engage with the audience on a personal level. At the Tractor Tavern, the stage is set up so that fans in the front row are practically on top of the stage, and he used that for a gag in the middle of the show he grabbed a fan’s phone and took a video of the entire audience and him and his band. He appeared to be much more at ease than he has at past shows, and both him and the fans seemed to enjoy the intimate nature the smaller crowd and venue provided.
Overall, this was one of the best David Cook shows I’ve been to in my many years of being his fan. He still has the same powerful voice and stage presence that he had at the height of his popularity, but the more intimate setting and laid back atmosphere made for the most fun and enjoyable concert experience of his that I’ve had. Whether you’re a David Cook fan or just a fan of good, live music, you should definitely check out The Digital Vein Tour if it comes to a city near you. I guarantee you won’t regret it.